I have been using Adam’s AutoTrickler & AutoThrow with an FX120i scale for about three weeks now.
Prior to adding the AutoTrickler and AutoThrow to my FX120i scale, I used an RCBS Chargemaster to throw the initial charge and would then weigh and adjust it on the FX-120i.
Initially the Chargemaster & FX-120i approach didn’t really cost much time. I was generally able to weigh, adjust and drop the charge into the cartridge by the time the Chargemaster had completed throwing the next charge.*
This method did mean that I was unable to perform any other steps like bullet seating. It took, on average, 45 seconds per charge. The 45 seconds includes work stoppages or other issues resulting from handling the charge.
I was hoping to reduce the time to 20 seconds per charge with the AT/AT (AutoTrickler/AutoThrow) combo. When I time myself over 100 charges for charge weights of approximately 43-44 grains, it takes 28 seconds per charge. That is a pretty significant time savings. The 28 second measurement likewise includes work stoppages or other issues resulting from handling the charge.
The times measurements above include the time to dump the charge into the case and set the scale pan back on the scale. It is actually the elapsed time required to charge 100 cases divided by 100 and converted back to seconds.
The AT/AT combo reliably throws charges within two to four hundredths of the target weight. Using Varget or H4350, this is approximately one to two kernels of powder. Practically, I don’t feel a need to adjust that load but, more often than not, my OCD kicks in and I add or remove a kernel or two in pursuit of percieved “perfection.”
Along the way, I have learned that the Chargemaster is surprisingly accurate. It was rarely more than 3-5 kernels of power off target and the times it was, the display indicated as such. Sometimes it was perfectly at weight.
*I also learned that using a long straw to restrict the intake cutout in the powder reservoir of the Chargemaster and some modest reprogramming could really speed up the charge master w/o adversely impacting accuracy. In fact, with Varget, I could achieve a reasonably accurate, +/- 6/100ths, every 16 seconds. That is about how long it takes the AT/AT combo to dump and trickle up a charge.
I am writing this for anyone considering this same investment. If you need to very accurately fill 100 or more cases using the identical charge weight, this is a very good system that requires a minimum of charge adjustment. If you are working on OCW loads or otherwise experimenting with short runs of differing charge weights, you will find setting up for a different weight to be cumbersome. It would be great if Adam were to add a keypad and display to enter the target weight.
My results as measured by Labradar are improved from using the Chargemaster alone. I have seen some incredible Standard Deviations in 5-shot groups like .3! In general my average SD using this setup is 8 where it used to be approximately 11 using only the Chargemaster.
By the way, I know that an SD of 8 is not so great. I see plenty of 3s, 4s and 5s which do make me happy but charge weight does not seem to be the last word in SD
Not sure I would attribute all of that improvement to the scale + AT/AT combo as my brass prep, sizing and seating operations have become more precise at the same time.
Would I buy it again? Yes. Any caveats? Great for long runs, but much slower for several sets of 10-20 round experiments.
Hope that helps someone and if you have any questions, fire away.
Thanks for sharing the time and experience.
I just loaded 100rds for a match tomorrow, brass prepped/primed, 44 minutes powder/trickle/seat bullet. Using a Ohaus beam scale/Omega Trickler. I would like to shave off some time. Was hoping your set up was faster.
A good friend loads his rifle match ammo on a Dillon 550/Prometheus scale, fast. Next few weeks bringing my dies... over to his place. Plan is to take brass off the ground, do nothing to the cases other then squirt some lube on them, load, tumble in walnut media to get the lube off the outside. Put those rounds on paper at 1050yds. Should be interesting! I know of a top PRS shooter doing this.
Henryrifle, good report. I met Adam in Ottawa and we talked a little (very little) about his products. I'll be getting his auto-throw to complement the auto-trickler in a little bit. I just have to recover from the trip, the flood, and so on.
Why do you even squirt lube on the case if you don't resize it? You would save even more time. I understand not needing the same level of precision that I need, but I would think that sizing would be the minimum, at least just to hold the bullet.
You can get that from a beam scale and a few fairly cheap components.
This is the wiring and switch part number.
You just throw an "under" charge and let it finish it, about the same speed as the charge master, just more repeatable from charge to charge.
There are still some parameters left for experimentation. I have the trickler slider control still set to the middle position which controls how the trickler ramps down to the slower speeds. Similarly, I also have the throw set to dispense 2 grains less than target weight as per the instructions. I'll bet there is some time to be gained by adjusting those parameters as well as experimenting with the angle of the trickler tube.
While it is not perfect out of the box I do think it is very good and within the range of acceptability with no post-throw adjustment unless you are a world-class competitor!
I have seen--on youtube--some of those setups with the $5000+ !! Prometheus scale that dumps powder directly into the powder die of a Dillon. I have also read about and performed many (not all) of the modification on my Dillon 550 to make "match grade" rifle ammo. Ultimately I gave up and just use the Dillon for what it is good at, making pistol ammo quickly and acceptable rifle rounds. And, I just don't make plinking or practice rounds anymore because I don't want to waste components or run rounds down the barrel just for the heck of it.
I realize that at my stage of capability, it probably doesn't matter but the run-out on the Dillon for .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor is in the 4-7 and sometimes more thousandths range. This is especially true for the first and last rounds when all the other stations are only partially occupied. Same issue exists for bullet seating depth. You can control this by making sure all stations are always occupied but it is not worth it for the relatively low volumes of ammo I produce. Additionally, primers are not all seated to exactly the same depth and dropping powder by hand into the powder funnel is tedious and easy to make a mess if you drop powder with the ram still down.
The Dillon powder measure with all tricks applied is just not accurate enough with Varget and you can forget about even trying it with H4350 or IMR 4064. I even tried a very expensive Quick Measure and while it reduced the over/under-throw down by 50% as compared to the Dillon it was still +/- 1 grain using H4350 or IMR 4064 when mounted to the Dillon press. My press is rigidly mounted to the work surface with is bolted to studs and there is still a lot of vibration passed through to the powder measure when sizing and seating primers which probably contributes to the inconsistency of the throws.
Thanks for posting those youtube links. I enjoy those kinds of projects and was not aware of that kind of scale add-on. There are some very clever people in our world!
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